Saturday, February 28, 2009

Small Balls

Friday, February 27, 2009

Net Report Feb 26th

27th Feb

I went to nets last night, but even beforehand I was knackered and suffering from the affects of being a bit run down or ill so once I got there I couldn't even motivate myself to get warmed up. The first part of the session was fine, some drills - running between the stumps, picking up and throwing balls at the stumps etc. I felt that the batting drill went okay, as I've been having a bit of a practice indoors, but longer term - my God how complex is this batting lark, it's as though I'm learning the 2 most basic strokes and I'll need to take a check list out there in order all the things that I'm supposed to do I'll remember and this is all reliant on the ball being delivered in a particular way!

So the main intention was to practice the Leg Breaks and not being in the mood and already feeling miffed I was further Miffed because a load of people ended up in the net with us and yet there were 4 nets set up, but seemingly a lack of people wanting to bat. My first ball was okay but from then on in it kind of went down hill for the rest of the session. The biggest problem seemed to be length, all the Leg Break balls seemed to be going too long.

It did seem to be the grip, it felt that I couldn't float the ball in and I didn't seem to be able to do anything about it. But retrospectively it may have been down to how I was feeling and the fact that this meant I wasn't concentrating that well which seemingly is essential. I also felt that I wasn't getting the 3rd finger to work at all. On the odd ocassion when the ball did go down the offside wide-ish and you could see the deviation off the line of flight it was turning but not much at all. As far as I was concerned I couldn't tell either whether there was any extra bounce or dip, but then as I said the length was the main problem. So all in all it was an awful session. I've also woken up this morning with a stiff back which isn't good.

Additionally since Sunday and the 5 aside football game I've still been suffering with a bruised heel and this maybe something connected with the bruise that occured in the summer after jumping off a wall which had been giving me gip for months but seems to have not troubled me in the last couple of months until I started to play football again. So I reckon last Sunday was my last match as I don't want to jeopardise my potential to play cricket because of football injuries.
We're supposed to be in the nets at the school this weekend, Simon, Mark and me are up for it, Badger has text me back saying no and Alex I've not had a reply from yet, but my Phone needs recharding so hopefully once I do that I'll have a positive message.


It looks like there'll be just the 4 of us, but Mark wasn't in today so I can't confirm whether he'll be there. I've emailed Neil at G&CCC to see if he wants to turn up but he smacked his lip last night when a ball came off the edge of his bat and caught him in the lip off of Cats bowling. What I may do is see if Ben and Joe want to come as well and whether they want to bowl in the other nets?

Much later....

I've repaired the stumps as they were smashed to bits last week and wont last that much longer I reckon and I'll have to come up with another solution. It still looks like there will only be four of us unless I can get someone like Keith at Swimming to come down and have a go or perhaps Nakul? I may email him and see what he's up to?

Other than that I've been thinking about what happened last night in the nets and why it was so wrong? It did seem that I was obsessing about the fingers a bit and forgetting other aspects. The whole bowling action retrospectively I now realise was disregarded to some extent and I may have not been putting any extra ooomph into it. I'm writing this section on Saturday mid day and have been doing the stand start drills outside the house and not obsessing as much about the finger positions and it's turning okay. So maybe it is a case that I just wasn't concentrating and bringing everything together? The length issues may have been down to releasing the ball too early because I was concentrating on not dragging the ball down which at this juncture seems to be the result of concentrating on ensuring the 3rd finger rips across the ball on the release at and through the 11 o'clock position in the delivery. If I can focus on that aspect and get it right I know the ball will turn more positively and maybe that's also integral to the bounce being improved too?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Net Expectations

Nets tomorrow night and the expectation that the Leg Break might come together nicely. What I've got to do though is stay focussed and not be put off by the fact that my mate bowls massively turning Leg Breaks. Instead focus on the fact that his line is inconsistent.

I think at the moment I am enthused and positive and after the results on Monday night champing at the bit to bowl at someone with a bat in their hand exploring the potential of varying the length, speed, flight and line. Thinking slightly longer term there's also Sunday when the MPA boys will be in the nets as well including Simon. Simon's the bloke that gives me feedback on what the ball is doing and how difficult/easy it is to play, so it's useful. There's a chance too that Badger might be there as well bowling so I'll be facing two bowlers I find fairly tricky to play against.

With regards my bowling at the nets tomorrow I'm going to have to try a different approach with The Wizard, maybe play purely defensive and see how that works?

Oh yeah I we haven't got the MPA nets for 15th March and April 12th, so we'll have to look at other options with regards those dates.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Leg Break news

Practice this week 1/2 hour

Monday night and Ben does karate and me and Joe sneak into an empty bay and either do fielding drills, catching or a bit of bowling. Joe was bowling well but got fed up with it and sat and watched Ben doing his karate, that left me looking at the clock thinking there's still half hour so I made use of the half hour and had a go at bowling leg breaks using one of those tennis balls with a rubber 1/2 and a furry 1/2. Swing balls I think they're called? Anyway it went exceptionally well. Again it panned out that I can get it to turn if I make a massive effort not to bend the hand or do anything with my hand that feels like it's going to make it turn. As soon as I do anything that feels like it should produce a Leg Break it produces a Wrong Un. So the answer for me is to try and bowl straight so that when the hand comes over the palm of the hand is facing the batsman, the spin is then imparted by the 3rd finger trailing around the edge of the ball and staying there as long as possible. Again I have to say it feels totally wrong and slightly awkward but it works. Again as I've said recently it seems to be an incredibly acurate delivery highlighted by the fact that in the hall I bowl along a line marked down the centre of the court and I can generally pitch it within a 6" margin 60% of the time with 35% of the time it pitching down the offside and maybe 5% going slightly down the legside. Either way when it pitches 6 yards short of the stumps it goes wide of the stumps by around one and half to two feet. And, it has that increadibly good bounce and it's faster. Again the grip seemed to be absolutely integral to how it spins. The 3rd finger today seemed to work really well when the last 3rd of the finger (past the last knuckle) was definitely placed firmly on the ball and the ball placed fairly high in the hand up amongst the fingers rather than in the plam. The thumb was more or less redundant and played no part in the delivery at all.

So this ended up being a brilliant little session further increasing my enthusiam to pursue the Leg Break further. So now I can't wait till Thursday to see if I can vary it's flight, speed and length and cause problems for the bowlers.

Came home slightly early today and came across our cricket field. It looks pretty knackered after the weekends football, but it's relatively flat. It's been mild the last few days with the temperature at night being well in excess of 4 degrees centigrade which is the temperature at which grass doesn't grow. So this weather should in time see the grass get going soon and start to recover.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ben and Joe's training session

Blimey it's tricky this having kids lark. When you're own kids are the modest, shy retiring types it's difficult watching talentless but mouthy kids with all the front and no substance more or less pushing your own kids around as if it's them that are the losers. I just have to bite my lip and say nothing and just hope those that are in the know also see what's going on.

Today the format was totally different again, they played a game in the style that they did in the other hall running up to Christmas. But as there were so many kids the two teams consisted of about 12 or 13 kids a - side. The coach seemed to pick the kids randomly and both my lads ended up in the same team and they were put in first. Both teams were made up of under 11's and 13's possibly even under 15's as some of did look a lot older than 13? Neither of them batted that well, Ben edged his 3rd ball for a catch at point and Joe was stumped out of his crease on about his 5th or 6th ball having not scored any runs either. They've yet to grasp the idea that they need to communicate with each other and take risks with regards making runs off of any ball they hit or is misfielded. Again I think this is where the situation is made worse by over zealous and over critical established players who are shouting at and sledging their own team members who are probably initimidated by the whole event and don't quite get why when you're training these mouthy types are treating it like it's Australia v England in the Ashes!

Then it came to the bowling and a chance to get a look at who bowls and who can't bowl. Some of the older boys definitely can an Asian kid in particular looked very clever with his bowling. They were only allowed 4 ball overs. This kid bowled his first 3 in a conventional fast manner threatening the stumps and inviting the bat to play the shots and the bat may have scored a few runs. Then the next bit was really clever if it was a strategy, he bowled a really short ball and the bat lifted his bat and tried to play it and the ball just glanced off the top of the bat and was caught at Gully easily - top bowling!

Joe's over was first and he was up against a much bigger boy (Older) who's also the son of one of the coaches and similarly plays alongside of his brother. I don't know whether this was the older or younger boy, but they're established players who've been there at least a season and are definitely the nicer kids on the team and can bat quite proficiently. Joe bowled his first ball loopy and slow trying to turn it, the kid played it coming down the wicket and missed it and the ball just went over the stumps but the keeper was miles back because all the bowlers up till Joe had been trying to bowl like Flintoff, the bat grounded his bat before the wicket keeper was anywhere near retrieving the ball to stump him.

Joe then went for a shorter ball but straight this time and the kid went for a defensive block - dot ball. Joe's next ball was longer this time and straight and again the defensive block and the ball edged out to point but there was no-one there - gutted. His last ball was faster with more of a run up - again the defensive shot, this time the ball pinged up and came back down the wicket just short of Joe who'd reacted far too late to get him bowled and caught! A Maiden over for Joe. All through the 4 ball over from the first ball all the kids were giving 'OOohh and Aahhh' Ben said that one of the kids turned to him and said - 'His bowling is dangerous because it's slow'.

When we got home Joe disappointed with his performance spent another 20 minutes or so practicing with me behind the stumps outside the house, he was turning the ball (leg breaks) and increasing his speed and was hitting the stumps 25% of the time and only bowled 2 wides in 30 or so balls.

Then it was Ben's over. Ben looked a bit rusty with his action and his run up was short, but it seemed that all of his balls were straight and just wide off stump from where I was sitting. The bats both had to try and play the shots and and I think the 1st three went past the bat and the 4th was edged but was fielded. Again another maiden over. So I was well proud. Then it was the mouthy kids turn, this is the kid that walks around with an aura that would suggest that he was in fact Kevin Pieterson without the manners and sense of decorum. He took the longest run up of anyone giving the impression that something special was going to happen and it did. The other team scored possibly 16 runs off his over! The gutting thing was no-one said anything, not a peep, this is the kid that shouts and hollers if people screw up - shouting 'Line and length' to the kids that haven't got a clue and falling on his knees with his head in hands shouting and making it clear that everyone else is useless if they screw up. 16 runs off a 4 ball over sounds like an almighty screw up to me.

I'm now wondering how they're going to pick the teams in the summer, might it be he who shouts loudest? Let's hope not. I'm wondering what I can do to help Ben and Joe secure a place and maybe it's the nets idea that'll help? They're aware that they've got a weakness with their batting, so we need to work on that so hopefully as soon as the weather does become conducive with playing on grass we'll get that going. With so many kids at the club it's difficult to see who it is who is in the under 11's - but looking at the website it looks as though a team is alreay pretty much in place.

DIY nets again

I'm liking the idea of having my own nets, that I can just bung up in a matter of minutes on a patch of grass or a field. I've come up with a design that I can knock up for around 100 quid that should be pretty robust and last a couple or more seasons that'll go on the roof of my car. For around the same price maybe a smidge more it could easily be a 2 net bay. The initial idea was that we'd use on 5 tree field and with that in mind I've emailed the bloke that's in charge of the fields and pitches in the area to see if that's okay. Normally in the past he's been pretty positive about my mad ideas so I've got my fingers crossed. Having said that I had a look at the Bye Laws on one of the Counicl fields yesterday and it clearly states that you cannot erect temporary structures or even posts without permission. Although loads of football blokes bring their own goal posts with cross bars and nets etc for 7 aside matches and get away with it.

Half expecting a knock back from the council I've been looking at a big roadside verge just across the road from where I live. There's loads of room and it's reasonably flat and has got potential. There's also a small enclosed patch of grass with two goal posts on adjacent to my house as well - that's just big enough too, but the grass is exceptionally uneven and is on a slope. but possibly okay to have a practice on especially if I was to roll it. The main reason I want to do this is so that me and my lads can have a good practice in the summer so in part all this effort does rely on them being enthusiastic enough to warrant the cost and effort. In an ideal world we could use our cricket field but I think we'd be taking the **** a bit setting it up there.

Actually I noticed today they played football on our cricket field so I'll go and have a look later and see how much damage it has sustained. The weather is very mild at the moment so the grass must be starting to grow with some vigour. I also had a look at the local cricket pitch at Laindon see link...

To see what work they'd done with their pitch and whether they were top dressing it or cutting it yet and they're not. The outfield, primarily the football pitches have all be aerated by using a tractor with a tining attachment but the cricket pitch seems to have been left. The wickets are all being left at the moment to grow and recover no doubt and I would imagine the ground keeper will wait until we have a run of good weather before he cuts the wickets? I may keep and eye on what he does and see how he goes about it?

Actually this field is an option for us to play cricket on and the groundman is so pro - cricket that he might let us set up our nets on the field adjacent to the cricket pitch (To the right). He's a part of the group of council workers that offered to roll our other makeshift wicket when we used to practice over at another field just a few yards from here. So if we were to use this field and start mowing a wicket I wouldn't put it past him to make a detour with his roller and roll our makeshift wicket if we were to establish one here!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leg Spin bowling 21st Feb

What a day! 16 degrees centigrade and sunny. So for the first time in months I had a bit of a bowl. See the other blog -

That went quite well, so I'll be sticking with bowling Leg Breaks primarily so that they're ready for the new season. I had a look at my clubs website tonight and found some bits on there that I've never seen before including all the stats I wont mention mine as they're pretty poor - you gotta remember I'm a learner. But there is a bloke that I've mentioned here before (last night in fact) The Wizard who's also new, I think he's got a year on me and he's the bloke who's stats I've got my eye on. Looking at the all the stats we're quite close.

The Wizard

Bowled 88.5 overs
Average - 50.92
RPO - 6.90
Maidens - 1
Strike Rate - 44.25
Batting/Innings - 11
Runs 19
Average 2.11
High score 5


Bowled 68 overs
Average 52.25
RPO - 6.15
Maidens - 1
Strike rate 51
Batting/Innings - 7
Runs 21
Average 3.5
High score 7

I lead the way with the batting which surprises me as I thought I was the worst on the team. With the coaching I'm getting and the personal effort I'm putting into the batting I'm hoping to get my high score up to 20 (Neils target he set me) and maybe get the average up to 5?

With regards the bowling averages the next person up the list in front of me and the Wizard is miles better. Wayne Simmonds has an average of 25.29 with 4.88 runs per over, so that's a target to aim for but the key aim will to beat The Wizard. If I could anywhere near Wayne that would be a massive acheivement.

With regards fielding The Wizard did better than me there too in that he had 4 catches as opposed to my two! I'm sure I had more than 2 catches! I thought I had 2 in one game at the start of the season and a really good one fileding a point once in the early part of the season!

So there you go a few more things to try and improve on along with the Leg Break.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nets Feb 19th G&CCC

Michelle and the Kids are away at the moment so I had to make my way to Grays by public transport, so a 20 minute journey turned into hour and half journey through darkest Tilbury and down-town Grays. My God how Grays has changed and for the worse, but I'm not going to go on about it. But if you're a documentary photographer used to shooting in Gaza or Sarajevo have a look at Grays as a slighty less lairy photography project!

So the nets. Loads of people there tonight 19 - 20 which is good for the club I'd imagine if they're all coughing up 5 quid to have a go. All the nets were in use and I was sharing a net with Danny (Batting) and The Wizard bowling his big turning Leg Breaks. Now last week and the week before Danny was dealing with my bowling fairly well but this week I was bowling slightly differently using my new small Legbreak quite a bit which is a usefull ball that seemed to get the better of him lots of times. It's a ball that tended to bounce more than my other deliveries and is also much faster than the others too, I've got a feeling that it dips more than the rest as well - it does turn, but I think that the turn is being sacrificed at the expense of top-spin and it's the top spin that is causing the dip?

Terry the coach came over to the Wizard and me and said that he'd been on a Terry Jenner coaching session and had some tips for us. He showed us the stand start drill, saying that the foot should be pointing in the direction of the delivery and the leading hand doing the same, the leading hand should be high and come down acting like a rudder steering the direction of the flight. The following through leg (hips) combined with the rotation of the shoulders gives the ball the drive. He emphasised the cocking of the wrist at the start having it in a position close in to the chest. I find if I do this (Cocking) it increases the chance of producing a wrong un. One point that he did make that correlates with my own experience is the widening of the distance between the 2 up fingers and the 2 fingers especially the 3rd finger on the seam. It's the 3rd finger that creates the spin. We both gave it a go but the Wizard gave up by his third attempt. I kept at it a little longer, but it's something I've already had in mind for when the weather gets better and I've got a bucket with 40 + balls in it to practice with and I can really focus on what I'm doing.

Any way back to 'Swiss' Danny Groves. Yeah I had him bowled at least 8 times maybe as many as 10 times? I may have hit the stumps once but most of it was edged balls that a wicket keeper may have taken, top edge balls that went straight up in the air to the bloke at short extra cover or Mid wicket and at least two that went up in the air that I'd have caught. I should ask him what it was that was causing the problem, but the fact that the majority of the balls seemed to be top edge errors suggests that it was the top-spinning small Leg Breaks.

Later on discussing this with Neil my captain he was saying that he doesn't actually produce much spin at all and yet he's the leading wicket taker at the club (Holds the record I think as of this year) and all he relies on is variation in speed, length and flight and needless to say accuracy. I was explaining the situation with this small leg break and how affective it seemed to be and how frequently I was getting it to go past the bat just missing the top of the off-stump. (If they had bails on I reckon I was looking at having bowled Dan about 12 - 13 times). I then had an epiphnal moment where I realised that I should work with this small leg break over the next 2 or 3 sessions in the nets only using this delivery but doing as Neil does - vary, the length, flight and speed whilst also trying to figure what it is that I need to do to get it to spin a little more. If I do this - this all fits in with the plans to develop this leg break as my main form of attack and looking at how accurate and affective it was tonight it looks as though my plan is coming together.

The Wizard tonight had very mixed fortunes, when he wasn't throwing the ball into the nets he (as always) was getting masses of turn on the ball. But it looks as though Danny knew what to expect and I got the impression that when the ball didn't turn that caused more problems? Saying that I had 15 minutes at the end facing Danny Bowling and The Wizard. The Wizard had me out with 80% of his balls as I was trying to figure out how I could approach his bowling in an attacking manner. On a few ocassions I went bounding down the wicket to the pitch of the ball and hit it which he commended me on, but it's not that easy and as I said most of the time I came unstuck and would have been stranded miles from my crease and out. The other approach step back on to the back foot and track the ball as Danny does and hit it was just as problematic as a lot of the time I simply missed it and swinging at it always runs the risk of edging it which happened a few times as well. So maybe a more defensive approach is required which then causes the bowler to possibly bowl in a different way, but then if I'm in at No.9 or 10 I'm in a position (as I have been) where if I can score a few runs at the end of the game I might win the game? So should my priority be to learn how to score runs off spinners using an aggressive approach or a more cautious approach?

I did better off Danny's bowling as he bowls straight and I was trying to produce a front foot drive or a defensive drive and I think I kept him at bay throughout my time at the crease. All of his balls that were on target were all successfully defended or hit fairly well. It's the wide easy looking ones that cause the bigger problem as they're the ones that I have a got at and they produce the edge that goes up into the sky and are easily caught.

So all in all a very commendable night all topped off with a lift home from Matt. He was saying that G&CCC under 11's are scheduled to play B&PCC fairly soon at the start of the season and that as soon as he knows he'll let me know as he's interested to see how Ben and Joe are getting on. It pans out that the boys cricket matches are played on Sunday mornings early, so it sounds as though I'll be able to go and watch their matches and then go on to play my own. I just hope that Ben and Joe get in the team - especially the Grays match if they do something like rotate who plays in the matches? But I think it's a league so you'd expect that they'd pick the strongest team? Matt was saying that the current U11's isn't that strong this year. So that'll be interesting and good to watch, I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This is another one of those jobs that seems to lack takers in our club. I've never been able to do it because I've never been taught as such. I've watched people do it and have a vague idea, but it's confusing because different people do it in different ways. In the past I've down loaded instructions off the internet and there's one website in New Zealand that seems to have a pretty comprehensive series of instructions that looks like the way that my club captain of the past year does it, so that's the one I've used to try and learn.

But tonight I had an idea after watching the test match last night in the West Indies. At one point the camera panned around the crowd in between overs and zoomed in on a bloke who had what looked like a scorebook on his lap and I thought there's one of those autistic types - that has to make lists and it looks like his thing is cricket scores. But the camera zoomed in and he was doing a crossword, but my initial conclusion which I'd jumped to gave me an idea. Instead of just sitting here watching the cricket on the computer, use it as an opportunity to learn how to score? So tonight armed with my Bourne's Empire cricket scoring book I had a go and it looks like it might work. One of the scores that came up was a 5 that came off a leg-bye. So I've now got to look into that rule/law and see where the single came from. I understand that the 4 came from the fact that it crossed the boundary, but did the single come by virtue of the batsmen running? Once I've figured that out and looked at the law I can then have another go at scoring during the next match and put the learning into practice, I have to do it in order to learn it as I'm a Kinesthetic learner

There's also potential for my boys to do the same and learn using the same system, I'm not entirely convinced that they'll take the bait, but I might run it by them and see if they do?

So using Wikipedia again I came up with this -

Leg bye
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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In the sport of cricket, a leg bye is a run scored by the batting team when the batsman has not hit the ball with his bat, but the ball has hit the batsman's body or protective gear.
If the ball deflects off the batsman's body and needs to be gathered by a
fielder, the batsmen may have the opportunity to score runs safely, and may choose to do so. The number of runs scored are scored as leg byes - they are added to the team's total, but not to the number of runs scored by either batsman, nor to the number of runs conceded by the bowler.
If the ball deflects off the batsman's body and travels all the way to the
boundary, the batting team immediately scores four leg byes, similar to if the ball had been hit to the boundary for a four.
Leg byes may only be scored if the ball hit the batsman while the batsman was in the process of either:
attempting to hit the ball with his bat, or
attempting to evade being hit by the ball.
If the batsman was attempting neither of these, and the ball hits his body, it is a
dead ball and runs may not be scored. The batsmen may, however, attempt to score runs and may be run out. If they complete such a "run" when the ball is dead, the umpire will signal dead ball, the run is not scored, and the batsmen must return to their wickets as before the run attempt.

I've now had a look at the law and how to fill in the scoring book and it's one of the those situations where it looks as though it's not going to happen that much in a match and it'll take me a while to remember the sequence as it's entered into the score book, but it looks like this is the order in the scoring of the 5 I've just seen.

1. An upside down triangle is entered into the batsmans line.
2. Four runs are added to the running total on the RH side of the score book.
3. One point is added to the Leg Byes extra row
4. An upside down triangle is entered in the bowlers analysis

I'm tempted to look at other incidence, but I'll leave them until I come across them as I've just noticed a load of contradictory information about how to record byes!

Other News

As we're on holiday (Half term) at the minute I decided that we'd go and hire a badminton bay at the leisure centre and have some indoor practice (Ben, Joe and me). We all had a bit of a bowl and a bat and both of them bowled and batted better than me! We also did some fielding exercises - they especially liked the 2 fielders chasing down the ball where the lead fielder scoops up the ball for the follow up fielder to then turn and throw the ball back in. We did some catching practice which they're getting much better at and seem to enjoy, but God knows what they're going to be like with real balls, as every time I suggest doing some easy work with real balls they're not up for it at all! Ben was rubbish at using the long barrier technique, so that's something he'll have to work on. I also set up some stumps and got them trying to throw the ball at the stumps over a fair distance - 30-35 yards. The thing with that was that Ben wasn't interested in taking any notice of my advice. I was trying to teach him the Paul Collingwood technique as they do at his club, but it was as though because I was telling him I was talking nonesense. Ah well - can't get too hung up on it.

Other than that I went across to our field and checked out how it was fairing after all the recent harsh weather. It's not too bad. The wicket markers are all still in place. The grass shows no signs of growing yet and looks fairly sparse across the whole field. The earth is really moist no doubt in part due to the fact that the grass isn't growing and therefore not drawing up the water. Being so soft it looks like the ideal time to roll it, but I noticed that football field had just recently been white-lined so there's obviously football intended this coming weekend. I'll just have to see how it pans out and leave it for at least another 2 weeks and see what happens.

We also went over to another field where we practice Five Tree Field and had a look at that as that's normally a very flat surface. That too was also very wet, but looked a lot lumpier than I expected it to be. While we were over there I noticed one of the ground staff and asked about the footballers erecting ther own goal posts and nets as they do and whether this was allowed and the this particular bloke said no. He went on to explain that the issue was that after a weekend of damage from the official football teams the ground staff hope that the field then has a good five days in which to recover, so if during the week groups of blokes come along and start playing 7 aside games on the same fields as they do further damage is done to the fields. I didn't go on to ask the question so would it be okay then if we were to erect cricket nets on a non-football field. Instead what I'll do is email the main man himself and see what he says about the prospect of us putting up nets for a couple of hours every fortnight?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last Thursdays Nets with G&CCC

Eventually I figured out how to transfer the massive 1.6GB file from my camera to the computer and then was able to edit it and cut it up into small bits. Having done that the majority of the clips I've got are me facing 'Colonel' and having varying degrees of success. But to be honest in comparison with my 10 year old son who I teach how to bat I'm awful and I need to take a different approach to it otherwise I'm probably going to be looking at 11 being my highest score again for the 3rd consecutive season!

It's obviously extremely complex batting - you've only got to watch the likes of Matthew Hoggard and Monty Panesar who obviously get coached by the best and are surrounded by the likes of Strauss and Pieterson and yet still are useless, to realise it's not that simple. Looking at my vidoe clips it's obvious that I wasn't really applying any technique other than 'Hit it anyway - anyhow' and most of it was with a big sideways swipe. One of the things I noticed was if the ball was coming down the middle I was stepping sideways out onto the legside so that I could hit the ball with the middle of the bat sideways in front of the stumps. The only real improvement I can identify is the fact that because I now have a arm guard and a hip guard I'm no-where near as nervous about facing the ball. Having said that I also get the impression that the blokes slow their bowling down for me a bit as I am a learner?

I've been looking at my batting again. I had a look at a few internet resources - being one of the better ones that I came across. I've looked at the Bob Woolmer videos on youtube, but I can't watch him - he's just too 1950's public school conservative. Anyway that aside having watched the cloverdale clip I went back to the clips I shot of myself that I've now edited from the last nets sesion and evaluated what I've been doing wrong and there looks like there's a lot. I think I need to adopt a strategy whereby when I'm in the nets I do something more akin to looking to survive without being bowled rather than try and get the bat on everything as they patently doesn't work. So maybe I should be looking to defend against balls that are threatening the stumps, leave balls that require that I swing at them and try and implement the front foot drive when the delivery is right? Although watching an Alastair Cook video on-line he says that the drive shot is only really applicable if the ball lands in a certain area? It's complex stuff this and makes me think that maybe I should be thinking about making the nets for outside use as well for summer practice?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to learn fielding positions

My kids have just started playing cricket for a club and they were given a sheet with the 11 basic positions for a fast bowler (as far as I can make out) and told to learn 2 of the fielding positions. I was crap at remembering the positions and as far as I'm aware most of the blokes I play with - who've played for years haven't got a clue either. So once my kids got this sheet with the positions and told to learn 2 of them I set about helping them realising it'd be good for me too.

So I made 11 plastic tokens and wrote the names of the fielding positions on the tokens with the intention of learning 3 in the first week and then more the next if necessary. So what I did is mark out a wicket on the carpet floor and asked them what 3 positions they were going to learn (they're 7 and 11 years old) and got them to place the 3 tokens in the right place. We all learned the 1st few in a matter of seconds and then my 7 year old got cocky and started adding another. Any to cut a long story down a bit - it got to this stage using a tape on the kitchen floor in a matter of 2 days Wrist Spin Bowling: G&C Nets - The Videos scroll down and look at the photo. Within 2 days we all knew every position.

I then had another idea. If you've got MS Paint on your computer or photo-shop you can make a template cricket pitch with the wicket marked out and then duplicate it 11 times. On 11 of the image files place each of the different fielding positions and name the file by it's position. Then one by one add text to each image with the name of the position and then 'File save as' the same name but add a on the end. (As below) Once you've done this you can open the file up in MS picture viewer and run as a slide show. The slide show will go through the fielding positions 1 by 1, first with the position marked with no text giving you 5 seconds to guess it, then followed up by the 'A' post-fixed files that show the position with it's name - see my blog again Wrist Spin Bowling: How to learn fielding positions
Last week you may remember my kids were gutted that they weren't asked about the fielding positions so much so that the oldest asked the coach 'Oi Mr - are we going to be asked about the fielding positions'? and when the bloke said no he wasn't impressed! But this week they had a different coach and as part of his session he asked a few questions and both my boys were champing at the bit to answer and at last got to demonstrate their fielding positions knowledge, so were quite pleased. I think what's been good about this process is the older son Ben is academically very switched on and soaks up knowledge like a sponge, he reads books at an amazing rate, whereas the younger son Joe suffers a bit from the sense that he lives in his older brothers shadow. But with this exercise Joe has been exponentially better at learning the positions and is very happy in that he knows another 6 positions more than is bigger brother!
Todays Nets for Ben and Joe

Joe and Ben had their net sessions today and their coach worked on a range of different things.
He had them running after the ball retrieving it and throwing it back to the stumps, they didn't do too bad at that. Then he got them practicing front foot drives dropping the ball and getting them to hit it down the wicket on the second bounce. Joe appeared to have lost it a bit with this and did okay, but Ben looked really good - he appeared to be getting everything right and when I have him the thumbs up he nodded with a big smile. Then at last after weeks of waiting for a chance to bowl they eventually got their chance, but unfortunately it was with very light balls which they're not used too as we use the Kookaburra training balls. The reason we use the Kookaburra balls is that they are the nearest in size to a real cricket ball and they're also the heaviest, so to then be given an ultra lightweight ball it screws up all your length and ability to bowl so well, but they got on with it and didn't do too bad. Ben was bowling with loads of out-swing (to a RH bat) so the coach suggested that he went round the wicket instead, I'm not sure whether Ben is aware that he's got this ability and how potentially useful it is, I don't mention it that much when we practice I just focus on getting him to stay calm and get his line and length accurate aiming at the off - stump. Joe's bowling suffered from light ball syndrome and the fact that they don't bowl in spells, so by the time they've gone through the other boys and got back round to him, he never gets a rythymn going - it's just something he needs to get used to. So his bowling was okay, but not good. Ben was bowling when Joe was the wicket keeper and Ben forced a good edge ball that Joe almost caught, but Ben wasn't at all happy. Joe almost managed a bowled and caught when he was bowling.
Eventually as they were rotating Ben got to bat and looked to be batting exceptionally well, with a definite look of good shape and technique. Joe was a bit wayward. When they'd finished Ben was well chuffed as the coach had said 'Well done Ben, I've not seen a lad of your age bat that well in many a year', so I was very pleased at that.
When we got in both of them were still full of cricket enthusiasm so we all had a good half hour - 3/4 hour of catching practice, which they both really loved and got quite competitive with and after our tea Joe had another 15 - 20 minutes of front foot drive practice off the dropped balls technique. So all in all a very good Sunday. With the week off I may also in the week book a badminton bay and have an hour with then working on throwing, catching and some batting practice. So that's something to look forward to.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Nets and Snow

I've just gone in from our net session in Grays. Coming home from work I walked home in the snow just as it started, at 7.30pm I drove to Grays and then coming out at 10.00pm it was still snowing so there was a lot of it about. Driving home I have to go up a biggish Hill - South Hill, Langdon Hills and the car only just made it and I reckon I must have been one of the the last normal cars, as I only just did so, anyone coming much later would have had to have a 4x4.

It's late so I'll have to write up the report tomorrow, but here's a picture of the snow at 10.15. If it continues or stops and gets cold overnight tomorrow is going to be chaos. Even the A13 looked as though it was going to get snowed over once the roads quietened down. The predicted weather was for rain, so maybe it will rain later tonight and we'll be okay. If it gets cold that's another story.

To be continued......

So where was I? Yeah last night more snow, making this one of the worst winters we've had down here in the South of the UK for years. Fortunately the temperature hasn't dropped over night and the snow although lying on the ground is primarily slush and we're supposed to have sunshine later and hopefully it'll all melt? The field once again has been covered, so like so many fields in the area will absolutely saturated and then once it thaws even more water logging and that will mean there'll be no football. I don't remember people stopping football back in the 60's and 70's when it was a bit wet - football pitches used to look like buidling sites - thick mud.

Last night I took the Canon G9 to Nets and shot a load of clips and did try and film myself batting, but the resulting file which is in excess of 1.86GB won't download to my computer, so in future I'll have to try and get some of the others to record my batting in short clips. I haven't had enough time as yet to go through all the bowling clips, but I'm not expecting much as I was bowling rubbish last night and again I noticed how slow my bowling is in comparison to the others. Again 'The Wizard' was bowling really well when he got it on target, he gets loads of turn and nearly had one go round the back of someones legs. Neil this time was determined to not show any mercy to my bowling and was hitting me all over the shop like I was Dan Von Brunger. But it did look like my best form of attack was changing the speed. Against some of the others 'Colonel' for instance it seemed to be changing the spin direction that worked - bowling Flippers, Gippers and Leg Breaks all going off towards slips and then bowling a stray googlie. The same seemed to work with Danny who again was in good form hitting me all over the shop with the balls that were spinning away to the off-side.

As for my batting - it was better from the point of view that I did manage to hit a lot of the balls and I'm not so scared of the ball, but with regards proper strokes - that seemed to go out of the window, but I do think it is the concentration factor. Today Terry (The coach) was teaching us lead with the head rather than the foot, if you move forward keeping you head and eyes in-line with the ball, your feet will follow, whereas if you do it the other way round it can cause balancing issues. Again that made sense and towards the end of the session I was beginning to implement it a bit, but it does feel that when I try and put in place the proper techniques, I start with a positive outlook thinking right do this properly and I'm less likely to be bowled and then the opposite seems to happen, I get bowled more! This is especially the case with front foot drive type shots. I always seem to miss the ball or edge it, but to be honest I'm probably not concentrating enough. I think this is one area I can work on with Simon in the nets at the MPA net sessions? But despite all that my ball to eye timing seems to have improved.

I've now looked at some of the video clips and played back my 20 minute batting clip in camera (Still haven't figure how to download it from the camera to the computer). One of the obvious problems seems to be that I hold the bat in a ready to swing round position rather than a swing through position, so that might be something to look at. Terry suggested that we practice the drop the ball & bat technique on our own as that's supposed to help with these issues, so I might try that?


Last night using the MS paint program I made a digital image of a cricket pitch layout to use in the testing of my boys and their knowledge of the fielding positions. Once I'd made the basic version I was able to then use Photoshop to mark the fielding position on the next slide using the first image as the template, then name each new position in a numerical sequence and save as individual files. This means you can play them back as a slide show to teach and test the kids on the fielding positions.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blah blah blah

Not a lot going on, yet I've still managed a load of old waffle. This is being written up at 11 past midnight on the 12th by which time contrary to what's been written below I've contacted the bloke at our nets and let him know that none of us will be there because of the fall out from Valentines Day. I've also said that we'd be interested in next weekend instead, so over the next few days I'll have to start drumming up some punters. For a minute I did think that Zorch would be up for it, but he sees it as I'm just there to make up the numbers - you ****taker! So he won't be there. I get the feeling that Simon, Alex and me will be there but as for any of the others we'll have to see?

Tonight with the boys we did a recap on the fielding positions and both of them managed 12 out 12. I went for the teaching strategy of they do the teaching - Whereby I got them to place the positions on the pitch and test me and I had to answer, so right from the outset it assumes that they already know the answers and sure enough they did. Joe (The younger one aged 7) is so full of himself over the fact that he's done this so easily (and I've got to say in the 3 years I've been playing cricket I've only picked up 2 or 3 of the positions and I know people that have played many years concede that haven't got a clue where the positions are) that he's insisted that we add another 6, so now we're learning -Deep Mid Wicket, Deep mid on and Deep Mid off, Short mid wicket, short square leg and backward short square leg.

I reckon that the next time we have a clear cloudless evening I'll be walking home in daylight, so it wont be long now till I start walking home via the cricket field which'll give me a daily opportunity to monitor the grass growth and the state of the wicket and work out a strategy for preparing it for the summer. More of this here......

11th Feb

Supposedly today we're going to have a dry day with sunshine. Cold this morning with all the puddles iced up and the cricket field looked frosty with the grass needless to say looking short and sparse. With the wind the potential for the top layer of soil and the grass itself to dry out is fairly high, all we would need is a week or so of dry weather combined with some sunshine and wind. I'm wondering whether if that was to happen whether it would be a good idea to start to cut the grass with the blades set to cut as high as possible before the growing phase really gets going. I remember last year going onto the field early in the year and it being ridiculously lush and thick and when it came to cutting the wicket I had to do the first cut using a pair of hand shears which took several days do small sections at a time. I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to get control of the height at an early stage in order to eliminate the need for the hand shears approach. In order to look after the grass it's far better to do little and often and to never cut more than 1/3 off the top of the grass. Whereas if it is left it's going to require that I cut 4/5ths of it in one go with a pair of shears and this means it's cut viciously right down to the brown stems and all the green is removed. This isn't good for the grass at all and really should be avoided. Admittedly the grass recovers but reading about it, this approach leaves the grass vulnerable to scorching and drying out.
With the recent snow and rain the marshes and fieds in the area I live are covered in flood water, so there's 100's of massive shallow puddles in the fields and this morning they're all iced up. We're predicted to have several days of sunshine combined with clear skies and temperatures plummeting to -13 centigrade at nights so there's some prospects of some serious ice skating fun or mucking about on the ice with the kids. I have seen that kind of thing since about 1978 - 79.

10th Feb
5pm. I noticed last night and Saturday that the sun had only just gone down at 5pm and at 5.30 there was still a glimmer of light in the sky. Michelle (My wife) was saying that our boys have got into a routine where they get in from school have a snack and then their mate OZ comes round and then they all sit and play with a the playstation until it's dinner time. Michelle was saying that she wants the weather to turn so that they all can got outside and play rather than sitting there potentially straining their eyes and getting fat because they're not doing any exercise. Hopefully this new kid OZ will want to join in and maybe become a cricketer too? Ben also came home with some good news that his schools has just had some new playground equipment fitted and along side that they've also cricket stumps painted against walls in strategic places, so I've said to him to ask if it's alright to take a bat and ball into school and play cricket at play-time. I bet in Australia they don't have to ask to play cricket at school, I'd imagine that almost every school in Australia they've got artificial wickets and stumps to go with it that are easily accessible? Actually having said that I know that when I've done ariel searches of Basildon where I live using google maps or similar I've been very surprised at how many schools in the area do actually have artificial wickets. The only thing is because cricket is so inaccessable now due to SKY TV no kid is ever going to come across it by accident unless of course their Dads are interested in the sport. Back in my day (Not that it made any difference to me taking up the sport) on Sunday if you turned on the tele you had four choices of what to watch and one of them in the summer used to be cricket. Now you turn on the tele (In well off kids houses or Dole spongers houses) and you have a choice of about 150 crap TV programs apart from News 24 and if your Dads got SKY TV sports - loads of cricket. So, for many kids cricket is perceived as a really obscure sport that Australians play I'm sure? Maybe the Ashes will mean higlights will be broadcast on terrestrial TV and kids will be introduced to it this year - maybe that's why the stumps have appeared to help in that process?

One thing I've not done as yet is let the caretaker know that we'll not be using the hall this weekend for cricket, so I'll have to ring him tonight and let him know and try and arrange that we can have it the following week. Hopefully I'll be able to get at least 5 of us there for that session. One of the blokes who's kids go swimming with us has said he might be interested, but I think he wants his kids to go along too, which may be problematic with regards H&S and our continued use of the space.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wrist Spin Leg Spin website links

After finding yesterdays interesting website I thought it'd be a good idea to compile a list of my favourite websites that relate to Spin bowling.

This is a website that's offering on-line coaching, but if you click on the images on the right hand side of the home page, there's some useful clips.

This website is an example of the on-line coaching available through wattacoach - it's a you tube clip featuring Australia's Beau Casson and I reckon this is one of the most useful resources for wrist spinners on the internet

This is probably the most popular one - Shane Warne with Mark Richards at Perth. Although this is pretty good I reckon the following 3 kind of obssess too much about the variations and can serve to do more damage to Wrist Spinners that are trying to learn the art

Similarly Terry Jenner demonstrating Leg Spin basics on the BBC website here seen on youtube. This is possibly the better of the two

The second Terry Jenner Wrist Spin clip again from the BBC website. This one deals with the variations in more depth.

This is the first of the 2 cloverdale clips. I like this one because it features someone other than Warne, there's loads of clips of Stuart McGill who has a very different style to Warne.

This is the 2nd of the Cloverdale and deals with Offspin primarily but it's still interesting

Another Off Spin - Mark Richards again, this time with Muttiah Mularitharan

This one with footage of Warne in slow motion so that you can see how the ball comes from his hand

Same thing with Murali

And of course this Old Skool stuff including the Iverson/Gleeson techniques

Monday, February 09, 2009


As well as keeping the blog here I also ask shed loads of questions and comment on threads in the website and through that I pick up little tips and pass on stuff that I find and learn as I try and develop my wrist spin bowling. Generally all the blokes on the website tend to be learners and it's virtually unheard of that anyone with any real knowledge ever joins the discussions. But today we had a bloke called Gatorlad who specifically appears to have signed up to the discussion board to make the following comments regarding my bowling. What was interesting too was that he either follows the blog here or the comments I've been making on the forum and he says......

Dave, read through a lot of your work and it's extremely thorough. I watched your youtube videos with interest, and (for what its worth), thought that the keys to you improving were as follows:
Front Arm: Your arm, whilst positioned relatively well, seems to be generally used for decorative purposes. I feel that it really needs to be pulled back into your body as it is brought down, rather than away to the side. The reason for this will be explained at the end.
Approach to the crease: It appears that you are going through the motions in terms of your movement through the crease. The use of momentum through the crease to generate the velocity of the ball will save wear on your shoulder. Your current speed is not going to be sufficient against a high calibre of opposition as you're simply giving them too much time to get to the pitch of the ball. Without becoming "warne-centric" it is interesting to note the manner with which he tended to explode towards the end of his run-up and approach of the crease. The key to not draggind down the delivery with the increase of momentum is to ensure that you don't stop at any point in the action, and for gods sakes, make sure that your right leg does some work!
Follow through: The most underrated part of a leg spinners action. It is important to remember that your arse has an extremely important roll to play if you want to get dip and zip off the pitch. Personally, I have found that a great way to ensure this occurs is to try and kick your right bum cheek with the back of your right foot as you deliver. The difference this has created in my personal experience is extremely noticable, so if done correctly you'll definitely realise it! Anyway mate, I hope this helps. I'm of course still learning myself, but these are some of the more important points that I've been taught by various coaches over the years. Best of luck.

In response I've commented - Gatorlad - Cheers Bloke, this is very much appreciated. I was thinking about some of this stuff today at work. Last night I was watching Warne on a Ashes 2007 DVD and remembered that my run in/walk in used to be described as being Warnesque and it so obviously isn't any more! In fact this evening working on some fielding practice indoors with my younger son I was practicing it (The Warne way) to see if I could get any sense that it added to the explosion through the crease. One of the big criticisms of my team mates is that my bowling just isn't fast enough - so it's something I need to work on.I've looked back at my videos and my leading arm and compared them with the Beau Casson clips that I've been using to learn this stuff with and from my uninitiated point of view I can't see a great deal of difference with where it ends up, but that's not to say that I don't think it's an issue, as I know full well that the 'Whip' action that my own teams captain uses when he bowls is massively faster than mine and I can also see this in Warne and Casson's bowling examples.I like the point you make about saving the shoulder by speeding up the movement through the crease a la' Warne. But I'm lost on your last point about kicking my arse - again looking at the Beau Casson clip YouTube - David Freedman legspin coaching video I've noted that at 4.09 into the clip he's doing the explode through the crease follow through drill and at this point he does almost kick his arse - is this where you mean? I don't know which bit of my internet writing you're following whether it's this or my blog, but your comments are appreciated and I'll certainly have a look at the points you've raised and I'm sure all the lads on here who are trying to learn this will take noted too and consider your points. The thing I like about all of your comments and it's something I've commented on before is that none of it relates to spinning the ball and the wrist. The other aspects to wrist spin bowling such as all the points that you've made I feel are far more important to learners than the ability to bowl a whole bagful of variations. I only wish that I had this input when I started out 3 years ago!Cheers for the comments and I'd appreciate it if you would clarify the point regarding kick your arse!!!Dave

Other than that me and Joe had a sneaky 40 minutes in the Badminton bays while Ben was doing his Karate. We did some catching drills - general catching, catching whilst on the move, running forward to catch the ball. Long Barrier practice and a little bit of bowling practice. The one that Joe enjoyed the most was the fielding technique where you have two players chasing the ball. The lead fielder reaches the ball scoops it up behind him so that the follow up fielder catches it in a standing ready position almost and gets it back in. He loved that. The irony of all this is that he's the bowler in his team that bowls spin and it's his team mates that will need to be able to catch when the time comes!

Other than that the weather is still crap and cold. It's pretty much rained all day and night and overnight it supposed to be snowing again. Having watched the forecast though it looks as though as the morning comes the snow will turn to rain so hopefully by the time I have to go to work it'l have turned back to slush or have melted? All this rain and snow has meant that our local field has been too wet (or cold) or covered in snow for there to have been any football matches played on it, so this means it hasn't sustained any further damage and the wicket will have stayed intact. With it almost nearing the end of February there's a vague chance that the rain may cease and we get some milder weather as we enter March and I'll have to start thinking about a rolling strategy. Having said that the rumor still remains that the lease of the field is due to expire and that the council will offer the land up for development either this year or next. This means potentially it may not be cut/maintained and may be left to over-grow. We'll have to wait and see? Although if that does happen we do have a contingency plan for a field that is a bit further afield but at the same time is bigger and better maintained and the green-keeper is an ex - cricketer. There's a good chance that if we're discreet he may either cut a wicket for us to use or let us cut it, and either way I'm fairly certain that the bloke would then roll it as well every now and then as he's such a good bloke.

I just did a Google search for Wrist Spin Bowling and either my blog, video's or my forum entries come up several times in the first 3 pages, so that's good. I came across this which looks very interesting although as yet I've only skimmed it quickly -

The Knuckle Ball gets a mention too.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ben and Joe update

Ben and Joe had their second training session at Fitzwymarc school nets today. They're not liking it as much as the previous series of sessions, but I suppose this will be the test in a way to see how committed they are and how interested? I did put it to them after the session that they might want to come over to Grays and join me there and they didn't like that idea at all - they want to stay with B&PCC.

This week they were with the Bloke Graham (I think that's his name) and were doing defensive block batting. Weirdly a lot of them including Ben and Joe seemed to have a lot of trouble grasping it even though from my perspective it strikes me as being a relatively simple move. Joe was one of the kids that grasped it to a greater extent, Ben did so to some point but lacked Joe's Finesse. It's obviously difficult to do a great deal with a 8 boys in an hour, all of whom have attention thresholds of about 10 minutes and the coach has got to get his point across and guide them through the basics. Both Ben and Joe stand there looking at the other kids who are in the nets batting and bowling both wishing they could get in there and have a bowl. I'd imagine that next week that's what may happen as some of the new kids were in the nets bowling this week, so I'm assuming they're going to rotate the drills with the net sessions?

They were both gutted that this week they weren't questioned on the fielding positions and Ben went as far as asking the bloke whether they would be and when he said no was very disappointed. So I'll have to keep that up and do it every now and then to ensure that when it does happen they know. I don't mind it as in the 3 years I've been playing I've not learned them and in the last 48 hours I think I've pretty much learned the 11 or 12 basic positions.

I reckon Fitzwymarc should get a pot of paint out and paint the walls of their sports hall white as all the wall above the height of about 10 foot is those horrible browny grey concrete blocks and it makes it dismally dark in there which could be a H&S issue with fast ball being chucked about.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

G&C Nets - The Videos

I've edited some of the videos now and uploaded a few of mine to you tube. It takes ages to upload these clips as the file sizes are in excess of 100mb and they're only a few seconds long - Don't know why that is? It also seems that the editing process makes the file sizes much larger even though I'm only using very short clips of the videos? Leg Break Wrong Un The Gipper

If the Wizard is looking for clips, none of the clips I got were that good and a lot of them you had people walk in front of the camera just as you were bowling. I got one or two of Wayne as well and some of Neil batting. The thing is for some reason I don't understand - the process of editing them and making them shorter and cutting all the crap out increases the physical file sizes. It ends up for instance that a 4 second bowling sequence is 120MB in size. So I'm fast running out of youtube space and harddrive space. I reckon they're useful things to have and look at especially if you edit them in and slow them down to slow motion clips of 5 or 6 FPS. So if you're interested in doing that I might look at whether it's better to save the original capture files or edit your clips and then burn them to either a CD or a DVD and perhaps come to some arrangement (remuneration) as it takes ages to do it all and every time I take the camera I run the risk of it being smashed to bits! I'll have to look at how easy it is to do all of this and the logistics. If you are interested you'll have to let me know and I'll keep your files till I've got a disc worth.

Other Cricket Stuff

While my Older son Ben was doing his Karate today Joe and me snuck into an empty Badminton bay and did some throwing, fielding and catching practice. Later on in between swimming sessions we also practiced batting as well and I noted that Joe was using a technique (the 9-9-9) technique he was taught last week at Basildon and Pitsea CC. I was quite impressed with that. Also all day today I've been working on their fielding positions with them as they've been instructed to learn at least 3 fielding positions. So I've made a pitch with a bit of string and then placed a couple of markers for the bat and bowler and then made some plastic tokens with the fielding positions written on them. All day on and off when we've done things like have a cup of tea in order that they can have biscuits they've had to place the tokens on the pitch in the relevant places. Initially I was only looking for them to know 4, but Joe really went for it and saw it as a real challenge where he could get one over his older brother and Joe by about the 7th attempt had all 11 placings! Ben then saw that the guanlet had been thrown down and he learned them all. So by the end of the day both of them seemed to be able to name the key 11 fielding positions they'd been given diagrams for in any order in any sequence. It probably helped that when me and Joe had been doing our catching drills Joe was having to run to the positions I was calling out.
It'll be interesting to see if they can do the same tomorrow?

Here's the image the next day with Joe just finishing the placings off by putting down the position for 3rd man. It's a little confusing as different resources give slightly different indications as to where the positions actually are. For the most part I err towards the placements as indicated by this diagram found on the internet at Wikipedia This is pretty much the same as the fielding positions as indicated in Simon Hughes book Jargon Busting - Mastering the art of cricket. This book in particular makes it clear that the positions offer some level of flexibility and that they're not universally rigid in their positioning.

Friday, February 06, 2009

G&C Nets #2

Nets last night with Grays and Chadwell. A lot more people than last week, but the hall has the capacity for 5 nets and tonight they had three in use one with the bowling machine in use. The Wizard was there tonight bowling some pretty good Leg Breaks in between some wayward one, but his good ones were exceptionally good and man does he get the ball to turn and it's at a relatively high speed. Unfortunately one of the things I fail to do when watching other people is look for and take notice of whether they have other attributes to their bowling dip and deviation off the line of flight (I can't remember the term for that) being the things I should be looking at. Although I did notice that similarly to Wayne his faster balls like mine are flatter. I didn't really stick to my game plan and was throwing a variety of stuff primarily as I was bowling at different people that I was trying to get out. The stuff I was bowling was generally fairly good if not a bit slow which is a frequent criticism of my bowling. I don't think the slowness is that much of an issue because of the comparison with the little kids in our team and how frequent they take wickets. If anything the secret seems to simply not bowl at the same speed all the time and mix up the speeds, but an ability to bowl faster when desired is obviously an asset and it might be one that I am developing with my so called Leg Break.

Leg Break; Again I tried it out at a low level - not using it all the time, but when I did it was surprisingly accurate but has another characteristic that I and the bats noted and that is that it dips but then bounces up exceptionally well. (Noted by Simon and Neil (MPA) last week). The same thing happened this week, there was a new bloke who had a very good eye for the ball and was attacking all the spin bowlers with a good deal of success, but I think I undone him a couple of times with this ball and it's a good ball to use as a surprise ball and it's generally faster. On the odd ocassion this ball was coming good and spinning away to the slips, but to be honest I was looking at it from the perspective of attaining the bounce and was just pleased that this aspect alone was causing problems. I think if I was to concentrate more I could also get the deviation off the line as well, so perhaps I'll do that next week?

The Gipper; More success with this as well. This ball is lofty and slow kind of like the deliveries that the little boys that bowl leg spin at our club get and I've seen them bowl with devastating affect! This draws the bat down the wicket and then allows you to put a faster one in there a few balls later. If they come so far down the wicket and miss cos they've not come far enough it usually has enough spin on the ball to get past them and the wicket keeper should be taking the bails off. I had the video camera with me tonight and shot 8GB of footage and I'm still in the process of editing it all, but I've got at least 2 deliveries of the Gipper on file, so I'll be uploading that to youtube in the next 48 hours or so. Type in someblokecalleddave in youtube and you'll see my bowling vid clips.

The Wrong One: Used this a few times after observing Wayne Simmons's amazing off-spinners - man does he get it to turn! Fast and vicious, but you kind of see that the bats know what he does and they quickly adapt to it. Having seen him do a few of those I tried a few and probably most of them came out crap, so I don't know if that's an indication of the fact that my muscle reflex memory is at last fading and I'm beginning to be more in tune with bowling other variations? Despite the majority of the wrong uns being rubbish one or two in amongst the leg spinning variations (Flipper, Gipper and Leg Break) seemed to cause problems.

The Flipper: My flipper is coming along nicely, it turns well when lofted up and skids in low with it. Currently I'm using it more or less as my stock ball because of the accuracy I get with it and the way I can vary the pace.

One of the other areas I've identified as being an issue is the rotation of the body through the delivery stride as the leg comes round and over. I'd already noted in the David Freedman/Beau Casson clip (wattacoach website) on youtube that they look a this as an issue and then noticed in my youtube clips - that my rotation is far in excess of 180 degrees. But the Coach we have at nets who I've now found out is Terry Hills (Matts Dad) also pointed it out tonight. He noticed because as I come into the crease at a slight angle and then rotate and affectively over-shoot the 180 degrees. The actual intention on my part is that - yeah I do come in at an angle in order that the delivery is then straight down the wicket at the stumps, but I concede that instead of my rotating foot then landing in line with the stumps I come round further (too far) and end up pointing to slips. Terry advocates I come much wider and don't even bother attempt to bowl down the middle. I'm not so sure whether that's something I want to do as all the coaching I've seen on-line indicates a straight down the middle as close into the stumps as possible approach? But - yeah I'm with him on the over-rotation crticism and it's something I'm happy to work on.

The other thing I noticed is that it looks as though I seem to have slowed down through the delivery and that's something I want to work on as well. The videos are good for this as it's comparable evidence. There is so much still to learn with this game - oh so much! Terry was talking about the Batsmen and capitalising on their weaknesses. I didn't quite catch what he was saying but he was saying when a batsman displays a reluctance to play certain strokes/shots you then as a the bowler should bowl to his weakness. Which I suppose is really obvious but it requires that when you're out there along with everything else that's going through your head including the fact that the last ball was hit for 6 and you'd just bowled 2 wides before that, it's going to take some feat of concentration to also think about these other more subtle tactics. Maybe that's where a captain or the wicket keeper my be useful to draw your attention to such weaknesses?

So all in all not such a successful bowling session in that I didn't get the ball to go past the bats so much as last week - as a bloke on a cricket forum has just said....

"Its annoying re the six hit heros in the nets as they never play that way in a match and then wonder why they cant play spin"!

Most of the blokes in our net seemed to intent on bashing the ball for six and I'm not so sure they'd play the same in a match situation?

One last thing, if you're skint like me or hate Murdoch and his politics and you want to watch the cricket try this... it's a bit ropey but it works fairly well.

Good on Ravi Bopara for being sold on the IPL for 300,000 quid. Probably means cricket UK will get screwed over in the longer term, but I can't deny the bloke the chance to earn that kind of money so quickly.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Nets tonight

Thursday - last night I got on the train at 5.20 and despite the fact that there was cloud cover it was relatively light, so come Friday if the weather's clear it be interesting to see if the sun has gone down by 5pm, I'm sure it will have only just done so, so that means Joe and Ben getting out of school at 3.30 or whatever time they do have the potential for an hours worth of cricket if they were so inclined! The thaw is happening at last, it's rained over night a bit and for the best part side roads and streets are now accessible by car and I only fell over once walking to work - again managing to land on my hands rather than anywhere painful. Although landing on my bowling hand isn't that good an idea, but I wasn't hurt. The cricket field is still totally covered in snow for some reason - it seems to have fallen deep and even there and hardly anyone has disturbed it.

So tonight's going to be net practice with Grays and Chadwell and the possibility of some coaching. I may try and focus entirely on bowling the leg break and just be prepared to be hit loads. I may vary the length and speed if I get into it, but in the short term I just want the ball to turn, so length and speed may have to be scarificed so that I can focus on getting the turn? With the batting I want to concentrate on the front foot drive and the step towards the ball and keeping the bat straight and not swiping it round at an angle as I was last week. Hopefully the coach will help me with that?

England have started their games with the West Indies yesterday, so hopefully my mate at work will have burned a DVD or two for me to watch of the action so I can pick up some pointers and watch the spinners. On this subject - last night I was looking around the internet looking for DVD's of Shane warne. You'd think that being as successful as he was and as popular as he was someone would have put together a DVD of some footage of his best spells and wickets? Or better still a Shane Warne 'How to DVD' with his famous and most impressive wicket? I can't find nothing!


I'm also going to take my video camera and try and get some footage of the practice, but at the same time I don't really want to be having to look after it and it does run the risk of being hit by a ball coming off the bat. I'll try and get some shots of my bowling and some of the others from the back shot from a high viewpoint so that you can see the bat as well. That way there shouldn't be an issue of people walking in the way of the camera.

Monday, February 02, 2009

No chance of a practice outside yet!

Went into work this morning in the snow and then got sent home by 2pm. Having gone into work I'd picked up my camera and on the way home shot some video of the snow and some pictures. As you can see from the picture here, there's no chance of a practice outside for a while.

This is our practice field from the wicket at the road end. The snow at the minute is about 5" deep with more this afternoon and later tonight, although as I write a predicted increase in the amount of snow doesn't seem to have been realised. Tomorrow is just going to start off with really cold freezing weather making travelling difficult as the roads are going to be like Ice Rinks.

I've had some bad news on the nets front for the James Hornsby front as Thomas has bailed out saying that he's paying 2 quid to play football in the evening and he can't justify paying a tenner to play cricket during the day. Whatever. So that's a man down and puts the nets sessions in a more precarious situation as that means the only way it can go ahead now is if we have Badger, Alex, Simon and me there and then keep our fingers crossed that someone esle my turn up such as Mark Soye. It all sounds a bit ifs and buts and is beginning to look as though I shouldn't bother and just stick with Grays and Chadwell nets? I'll see what happens next time.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Cricket Sunday

It's 5pm and I'm two thirds of the way through a sport packed day. Midday after some frantic phoning around I eventually arrived at our nets (See picture). Paid the man and was left to drag the nets out and roll out the mats as no-one was there on time. Thomas turned up at about 12.10, so there was at least two of us and I knew there was handful of others on their way coming in from London and Southend. By 12.20 they were all there. Realising that they were going to be late I thought I may as well bat first and got padded up. Since our nets at the same venue 2 years ago now I've acquired hip pads and recently forearm pads and I'm probably slightly better at batting than I was back then so I was quite confident about going in there and facing Simon and Thomas who are both quite fast bowlers.
Eventually once everyone was there it ended up that there was 5 of us - Thomas, Simon, Alex, Nick Naughty and me. The word is that this is probably Nicks first and last time with us and he only came to make up the numbers. So with the situation with Badger doing over-time on Sundays we're kind of looking at only 3 of us potentially turning up and there's more about that later.... But this week thankfully Thomas was there and made up the numbers. Nick and Alex practiced in one net and Thomas, Simon and me practiced in another. Our makeshift stumps didn't last that long either with simon disintegrating one into bits with one of his first six balls. So I've got to go back to the drawing board with that and come up with another idea for stumps. In the meantime I'll just repair the current ones. Plastic would be the answer - the type they make chemical drums out of. We have got wooden ones that are embedded in a wooden base but they're rubbish.
Anyway to the batting and the bowling. I suppose the area that I've improved the most is just confidence, having had a broken/bruised rib I'm as fearful as i used to be, plus my technique has slightly improved. So generally I did okay. Simon caused me the most problems with his bowling - he's Right arm over the stumps at the off stump on a good length and I tried to play front foot drives and numerous times I must have just missed the ball and it clipped off. Batting's not a strong point for me so hit a few back down the wicket with a front foot drive is a step forward and there were spells where I was surviving quite some time so it wasn't too bad.
Bowling. Here comes the fun bit. Of the old MPA 1st XI Simon was our best bat (Or was it Nakul) and he plays a fairly cautious game and is quite knowledgeable having played at County level with his school. He does well against the faster bowlers but concedes that my bowling really causes him problems and for once I was able to get some feedback on my bowling and apparently I do get dip! He was saying that because I flight the ball and vary the length he's always in two minds as to whether he should come down the wicket, but then he said 'If I'm indecisive, I get forced onto the back foot and then your bounce varies and I'm edging the ball to the keeper or out to Mid wicket or cover, so yeah you're a nightmare to face'. But he looked like he was enjoying the challenge of trying to come up with a strategy. He also said 'Surely if you can get it to turn on this mat, it's gotta be some much worse on a wicket'? The mat we were using was pretty crap and I wasn't getting that much turn on it - but a little. So that was pretty good.
Leg Break; Then later I was bowling at Thomas and he's left handed so my googlies are not that good against him - for some reason he could deal with them easily, so I reverted to trying the Leg Break and it came good even on the particularly unresponsive mats. I was surprised at how good they were faster and bouncier than most of my other balls and it seemed to be the key to bowling them was the straight hand and the spread fingers making sure the 3rd finger was very much a key part of the grip. It requires that when I place the ball in my hand I put the 3rd finger on the seam first and the rest follow pretty much all spread out quite wide. Doing this it worked exceptionally well, so it looks like I maybe getting the Leg Break?
It's not looking that promising. I kind of got the feeling that Simon (Although he seemed to enjoy it) came begrudgingly? The next session is supposed to be on Valentine Day weekend and at this session they were all more of less saying 'Count me out'. So we're now looking at the weekend after or a months time? I'll have to negotiate with the caretaker Kevin and see if we can get in there the weekend that's around the 21st?
Then later I played football at the Laindon sports hall with a bunch of random blokes and Thomas and Warren. I half expected to come away with injuries but it was okay. I didn't do too bad considering I'm 48! I don't think I was huffing and puffing half as much as most of them! Our side won something like 25 - 8!